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fects would be to him the only rule of obligation to assist, or not, in supporting them; and such optional exemptions from public burthens and duties, would, in most cases, operate as an irresistibly attractive premium upon dissent. But, my Lord, I have already carried this argumentum ad absurdum quite far enough. It is evident, that the doctrine which it combats is quite at variance with all established order, both in this and in every other wellgöverned country. And, I am quite convinced that, in reference to the subject on which I am arguing, no respectable and refeeting Dissenter will be found to advocate it; since the decided opinion of all such men is known to be, that the permanence of our mild and paternal Government, in Church and State, is the only sure pledge which they have for the permanent enjoyment of their own justly prized constitutional rights. But it may, and probably will, still be demanded, “Shall Disz senifers then be entirely excluded from all participation in the benefits of this common national provision ?” I answer, my Lord, that they would be so excluded, only in the same degree, and the same manner, in which they are, and always have been, excluded from participating in the equally important benefits of the established religious instruction of the realm. National infant education can only be considered as, in its most important part, a preparatory branch of that great course of public teaching, which it is the office of the Church to supply: and Dissenters might, with as much reason, expect that the rites and doctrines of the Church, should be so moulded down and generalised, as to admit the attendance of members of all those persuasions which pay to its support, as that the national instruction should be so extended, or divested of its essential principles, as to admit the education of them all. As to such extension, no Government, surely, can be required to provide instruction, either in churches or schools, for every varying shade of sectarian error, which the ambition, the perverseness, or the caprice of man, in a state of wayward freedom may engender. And if not, where, my Lord, could the line of exclusion be equitably drawn?
Dissenters, however, will not, it may again be urged, accept education for their children upon such terms as these, and therefore a numerous, and, in many respects, a meritorious class of the community, must be abandoned by the State to ignorance and vice. But this, I apprehend, is imagining an alternative which would never be likely to occur. We know, as I have hinted before, that the industrious, and, where rightly founded, the laudable, zeal of Dissenters, leaves very few of the infant population, at all connected with them, wholly destitute of some education ; and there can be no reason to suppose, that, under an effective system of national instruction, their vigilance would abate. Todependently, however, of this resource, the established National Schools would, certainly, be found to draw together great numbers of children, whose parents might, probably, under the offer of equal facilities of education, have sent them to the schools of dissent. There would be many, for instance, whose desire of education would preponderate over their religious prejudices; who, for the sake of such a blessing, would cheerfully overlook the smaller distinctions of sect;' and there would be very many more, whose connexions, and general intercourse of life only, might have given them a bias in favor of a well-supported Dissenting School, who would, beyond all doubt, hesitate not a moment, to accept the national instruction for their families, when thus offered to them with so many exclusive advantages. . I am inclined, my Lord, firmly to believe, that these two classes of people, together with those who, as I have just observed, would be educated by the sectaries themselves, would comprise the whole of that part of the population, which might be supposed as at all likely, on any ground, to be excluded from the National Schools; and thus, I repeat it, the repulsive alternative, above stated, would be proved quite imaginary in the result. And not only, indeed, would all apprehension relatiye to the entire abandonment of many of the people to iguorance, soon subside, but vast bodies of the rising generation would, in this manner, from time to time, be permanently attached, by education, to the Established Church, who, if they had been exposed to the seducing 3 rivalries also of florishing dissenting schools, might have fallen irretrievably into the widening vortex of Sectarianism. Thus, the most desirable extinction of petty religious differences, where there is, in fact, no real cause for separation, would, in some degree, at least, be accomplished; and the unity of the Church, the object of the prayers of all good men, would grow peaceably, and, as it ought ever to do, with the growth of the people in knowledge and virtue.
See, on this point, some strong facts relative to five schools, given in evidence by Mr. O. Hatch before the Education Committee, and published in their reports; also the equally strong evidence of the Rev. C. Champres, relative to the school in St. Mary, Stratford le Bow, in which, he says, were not only Protestant Dissenters, but even Roman Catholics, who learnt the Church Catechism and went to Church. See farther, on the same point, the evidence of the Rev. William Johnson, master of the National Central School, and of Thomas Babington, Esq.
? The evidence of G. Green, Esq., in the same reports, affirms, that the first provision of opportunities of receiving Church instruction materially diminished the number of Dissenters in Poplar and Blackwall.
3 The evidence of the Dean of Westminster relative to the Croydon Schools greatly illustrates this point.
I know, my Lord, that it is common with other objectors, rather philosophical than practical in their views, who are for letting all things connected with the influence of public opinion take their free course in the world, to plead, in opposition to any of these attempts, to give a right bias to the popular mind in the midst of increasing information ; that if the extraordinary excellence of our institutions, religious and civil, be such as their patriotic admirers believe, it must always act as a palladium of security for them, great in proportion to the advance of knowledge. But such cool speculators, whilst indulging in a refined and imposing theory, evidently lose sight of the plainest appearances in the moral government of the world. They forget that, although the goodness and power of God might, doubtless, decree complete security by the means which they assume, to every human establishment in proportion to its excellence, the base passions and perverse judgments of men are, notwithstanding, and in spite of any means possessed of judging correctly, left at liberty to work for society at all times, if uncontrolled by human wisdom, and unsubdued by religious discipline, every mischief. And they forget also, that no state of civilised happiness is too perfect to be above the disturbance of those unsubdued passions, or, what is much more unfortunate, perhaps, above the conscientious opposition of those uncontrolled judgments. Moreover, the whole course of common experience, as well as a correct view of these permitted agencies of evil, equally demonstrates, that discontent under any social circumstances, however enviable, and under any state of mental cultivation, however extended, if not purified by right principle, is a feeling very easily propagated among the multitude; and that human nature, as long as it remains essentially what it is, will always, even with the advantage of the best discipline, be liable to suffer occasional delusions from the arts of able and unprincipled seducers. I confess then, my Lord, that when I am told, that the miore the impartial desire and ability to scrutinise jealously and narrowly our national establishments are diffused among the people, the more universal will be the popular love of their excellence, and, in consequence, that to attempt the formation of public opinion by any system of pure national instruction, is worse than useless. I know not which most to admire, the simplicity, or the more palpably suspicious character, of such reasoning. There may, possibly, be found some few well-disposed persons, who, on such grounds, inight be weak enough to wish to see the preservation of all the most valuable interests of society entrusted to the unbiassed judgment of a people enlightened in knowledge, though uninstructed in the right mode of employing it; but the far greater part of those, who reason upon such views, in opposition to national education, can VOL. XVI. Pam. NO. XXXII.
only be enemies in disguise, recommendirg an experiment which they must know would be attended with the worst, and the most inevitable dangers.
Upon the worn-out objections of those, weak in numbers as feeble in argument, who consider all popular education an evil, it is not worth while, nor is it my intention, to detain your Lordship ; because with them, as I have before observed, all question has, practically, for some time, been at an end. And I should really, at this time of day, be ashamed to find myself obliged formally to defend the opinion, that the extension of moral and religious education is the only sure mode of improving the condition of society. If, however, they live only a few years longer, even the blindness of these mistaken patriots will be removed; for they will then see clearly, that had the constituted authorities of the country refused to advance onwards with the advancing tide of knowledge, the great and still improvable institutions, which they so justly value, would have been left. isolated and deserted spots amidst an encroaching flood of human projects, folly, and ambition. There is only one possible case in which an enlightened patriot could be justified in subscribing to the opinions of these narrow reasoners; and that case would occur, whenever the only education in the power of the people to obtain, should be essentially defective in its religious instruction, or, vicious in its principles, and calculated to estrange them from their natural and wholesome attachments to a throne established in justice, and an altar in purity. When the sagacious Montesquieu, my Lord, observed,' “ Souvent le peuple a tiré de la mediocritè de ses lumières un attachment plus fort pour ce qui est étable,” he evidently alluded to established orders of things, too defective to bear the pure light of knowledge. But, in the case which I am supposing, his observation, though equally true, would be soon opposite grounds. The excellence of our constitutional establishments would be the temptation to their ruin ; for the light, which would break in upon and expose their beauties, would proceed from the torch of the incendiary and disturber. In such an improbable case, but, in such a case only, my Lord, ignorance would, indeed, be bliss to the nation.
Having now drawn your Lordship's attention, as briefly as the subject would permit, to the necessity of watching narrowly the projected Parliamentary measures in favor of the general education of the people, and of making the basis of that education decidedly rational in its course of instruction, and having also endeavoured to answer the chief objections which may be urged against such a system, the most eligible plan for carrying it into effect
L'esprit des Loix.
might safely be left to the judgment of the Legislature, which has never yet shown itself wanting upon every critical emergency, in a determination to uphold all the great national interests against encroachments of every kind. I will, however, take the liberty, my Lord, to make a few observations on this point, remarking first, that the “National Society,” to whose admirable exertions the country stards already so largely indebted, might perhaps be advantageously constituted in its present form, The Supreme Board of National Education, and be entrusted in that capacity, under such enactments as may be deemed necessary, with the disposal of any funds that may be granted by Parliament. Its organisation, as it now stands, is excellently adapted to operations upon the most extensive scale; it possesses experience and knowledge of the wants and circumstances of the country of the most valuable kind; and it is already approved and patronised as a strictly religious and purely patriotic institution, by the most eminent individuals in Church and State. But, if it should be deenied more desirable to form a new and original establishment, I would then, my Lord, beg to be allowed to offer the following suggestions, which might possibly be made to assist in giving to it the desirable qualities of simplicity, comprehensiveness, and effect. In the first place, the great objects and permanence of any such new establishment should be provided for by the appropriation of funds at once ample and secure. These funds should be furnished out of the general public revenue, in preference, for strong and obvious reasons, to being raised by the imposition of any additions to the already oppressive weight of Parochial taxes. The annual sum required would, by no means, form a very serious item in the general expenditure of the country, as, by means of a convenient union of parishes, the many excellent Parochial Schools now existing, and an advantageous regulation of endowed Grammar Schools, which, as such, are now, in many places, nearly useless : the number of new Parochial establishments required in England and Wales would probably not exceed two-thirds of the number of parishes, or about 7000. And, as the Government salaries of the School-masters should not average less than 401. per annum, which, with the addition of a weekly payment from the superior class of their scholars, and a gratuitous house of residence, would furnish competent provision for them, the probable annual expenditure might, perhaps, fairly be estimated (including contingent expenses) at about 300,000. An annual vote of Parliament might, perhaps, safely supply this sum, but the assignment in perpetuity, of such a portion of the public funds as would always produce it, might be considered a more satisfactory mode of provision. This property might be invested in the names of certain great public Officers for the time being, as trustees, and the appropriation of it, and the general management and superintendence of the whole